Reef Spotlight: Joe Garza (Bubblewood)

Posted by on May 11, 2015 - zero


R2R Tank Build Thread Here

First, I want to say that I am completely honored be featured as this month’s Reef2Reef spotlight. I have looked at the tanks featured here and I never thought I would see my tank featured.

My journey to the saltwater world began after spending years of traveling the oceans. I am a U.S. Navy veteran. Being in the Navy gave me the opportunity to travel the oceans, explore many different countries, and admire the underwater world.

Going back 20 years or so, I started with a FOWLR 125-gal. system. I kept everything from angels to butterflies to tangs. I was hooked. At least, I thought I was. Fast forward to the past few years, I changed from the FOWLR to the wonderful world of “corals.” The SPS bug bit me rather hard and presented a challenge that I accepted head on. As I learned what it takes to make SPS corals thrive, I faced many ups and downs.

Now, I successfully maintain a 120-gal. and 240-gal. reefs. My days are complete when I’m able to come home and enjoy this beautiful underwater world with my family. My three children always love to give an extra hand when it comes to little chores to the reef, except when it’s skimmer duty…then everyone disappears.

Joe Garza's 120-gal. SPS-dominated reef.

Joe Garza’s 120-gal. SPS-dominated reef.

System Profile:

  • Display tank: 120-gal. custom glass tank with internal overflow box – 48x28x22 in.
  • Stand: Contemporary stand with access doors on front and sides
  • Sump: Acrylic 18x40x16 in. with three chambers; volume is 50 gal. with refugium and Chaetomorpha.
  • Protein skimmer: Warner Marine K2
  • Carbon/phosphate filtration: MR1 reactor with carbon only
  • Return Pump: Eheim 1262
  • Water Circulation: Vortech MP-40 and MP-10, one each. I use several modes from reef crest to lagoon to achieve the flow that I feel is optimal for my tank.
  • Lighting: 48-in. ATI eight-bulb fixture
  • Ca/Alk/Mg dosing: My Reef Creations twin-tube calcium reactor with additional dosing of Zeo Vit, Pohl’s Xtra Special, Coral Vitalizer, Sponge Power, Lugol’s Iodide
  • ATO: Tunze osmolator 3155
  • RO/DI: Five-stage system
  • Heating/cooling: 400-W titanium heater
  • System controller: Apex control system and Foscam live-cam feed

Water Parameters:

  • Specific gravity: 1.026
  • pH: 8.10
  • Calcium: 440 to 455
  • Alkalinity: 7.5 to 8.0
  • Magnesium: 1350  to 1400
  • Temperature: 79 to 81 F (26 to 27 C)

Lighting summary & objectives:  

  • Eight lamp T-5
    • Front to back: Blue+, Coral +, Actinic, Blue+, Coral +, Actinic, Blue+, Purple+
    • My actinic come on first at 8:30 a.m. Next, the main lights come on at 9:30 a.m. and remain on until 7:30 p.m. Finally, the actinic go off at 9:30 p.m.

Filtration & water quality summary:

  • Perform water changes every two weeks.

 Tank inhabitants

Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus)

Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus)


Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)

Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)


  • Premium black snowflake clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
  • Fancy white clownfish (Amphiprion ocellaris)
  • Copperband butterflyfish (Chelmon rostratus)
  • Black tang (Zebrasoma rostratum)
  • Chevron tang (Ctenochaetus hawaiiensis)
  • Moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus)
  • Randall’s anthias (Pseudanthias randalli)
  • Carberryi anthias (Nemanthias carberryi)
  • Smalltail pencil wrasse (Pseudojuloides cerasinus)
  • Carpenter’s flasher wrasse (Paracheilinus carpenteri)
  • Pygmy possum wrasse (Wetmorella triocellata)


Watermelon bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)

Watermelon bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)

Other Inverts:

  • Watermelon bubble-tip anemone (Entacmaea quadricolor)
  • Blue linckia sea star (Linckia laevigata)
  • Sand-sifting sea star (Astropecten polyacanthus)
  • Various sponges
  • Emerald crabs (Mithraculus sculptus)
  • Variety of snails and hermit crabs


I have approximately 53 different species of SPS corals. I am still collecting treasured pieces all the time, but I need a bigger tank! Here is a list of some of the corals:

  • Gorgonians
  • Digi’s
  • Efflos
  • Milles
  • Red dragon
  • Pac-Man dragon
  • Several deepwater acros
  • Montis – Acid Rain
  • Sponges
  • Ricordea
  • Oregon Torts
  • Several Zoas

Following are several photos of Joe Garza’s corals.











Fish & Coral feeding:

I feed a large array of food from frozen to pellets. I typically mix this up daily. I feed fish twice a day. Corals get fed twice a week after lights go out.

  • Julians Sprung’s green and purple seaweed nori
  • New Life Spectrum fish pellets, 1-mm size
  • New Era Algae Pellets/Marine grazers
  • PE mysis
  • Ocean Nutrition Pygmy angel formula
  • Limpits Reef Buffet, Original blend & Coral food blend
  • Reef-Roids
  • Coral Frenzy
  • Rod’s Food fish eggs



The most important thing I have learned about keeping these delicate creatures is stability! Maintaining excellent water conditions while keeping the fish healthy and corals fed can be a balancing act. This hobby is very rewarding when taking it slow and not constantly chasing parameters all over the place. I share my knowledge and keys to success with my local reefers. In doing this, I watch many of them have great success.

I would like to thank many people who have inspired me, given me knowledge, and have helped with my reef tanks! These people include Cliff, Tom, Dale, Scott, Kevin, Rich, Paul, Katie, Living Art Aquarium and Brian & Judy (Best Fish). Most important is my family and their support of my deep passion with this hobby. I feel very fortunate that I have been able give back to our reefing community.

Tags: , , , ,

Leave a Reply